Three flag-waving white supremacists who allegedly attacked journalists at a Donald Trump rally in Huntington Beach, CA, last year have been arrested. All three – Robert Rundo, Robert Boman and Tyler Laube – are members of the Southern California-based Rise Above Movement. A fourth suspect, Aaron Eason, still is being sought.
An OC Weekly reporter and two photographers were assaulted at a Make America Great Again rally on March 25, 2017. According to news accounts, the reporter was “repeatedly punched” as a photographer for the paper was pushed and shoved as he shot photos of another photographer being hit with an American flag.
The arrests come against a backdrop of the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and today’s bomb sent to CNN’s New York headquarters and suspicious packages sent to numerous leaders of the Democratic Party.
“Every American has a right to peacefully organize, march and protest in support of their beliefs – but no one has the right to violently assault their political opponents,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna. “The allegations describe an orchestrated effort to squelch free speech as members of the conspiracy travelled to multiple locations to attack those who hold different views. This case demonstrates our commitment to preserve and protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
A criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that the four defendants used the Internet “with the intent to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots.” All four are accused of engaging in a series of violent attacks at political rallies in 2017, including events in Huntington Beach, Berkeley and San Bernardino. The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that the men used the internet to coordinate “combat training,” attendance and travel prior to the events, and then to “celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events.”
If convicted of the conspiracy and riot charges in the complaint, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Redondo Police Department and the Torrance Police Department provided assistance in relation to this morning’s arrests. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David T. Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section in the National Security Division of the United States Attorney’s Office.
The case follows the filing on an indictment in federal court in Charlottesville, VA, that charges four other California RAM members with violating the riots statute during violent altercations at a torch-lit march at the University of Virginia and Unite the Right Rally in August 2017. The affidavit unsealed today in Los Angeles noted the connections between the defendants in both cases.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, RAM and its members documented and promoted their white supremacy ideology through postings on various internet platforms and through graffiti.In the spring of 2018, Rundo and two of the men charged in the Charlottesville case traveled to Europe to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and to meet with members of other white supremacy extremist groups, according to the complaint.
“Rundo, Boman, Laube, and Eason, along with other RAM members, have used the Internet to prepare to incite and participate in violence at various political events, have committed violent assaults while at those events, and have applauded each other for it and publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit more members to engage in further assaults,” the complaint alleges.